Aurora kinase inhibitors: novel small molecules with promising activity in acute myeloid and Philadelphia-positive leukemias

Leukemia. 2010 Apr;24(4):671-8. doi: 10.1038/leu.2010.15. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Aurora kinases are a family of protein kinases that have a key role in multiple stages of mitosis. Over-expression of Aurora kinases, particularly Aurora A, has been demonstrated in a number of solid tumors and hematological malignancies. Not surprisingly, these serine/threonine kinases have become attractive small molecule targets for cancer therapeutics, with several inhibitors currently in early-phase clinical trials. A small number of compounds developed to date are highly selective for either Aurora A or Aurora B, while the majority inhibit both Aurora A and Aurora B; many of these compounds exhibit 'off-target' inhibition of kinases such as ABL, JAK2 and FLT3. It is currently unclear whether the therapeutic activity of these compounds in leukemia is primarily due to selective Aurora or multi-kinase inhibition. The most promising application for Aurora kinase inhibitors to date appears to be in FLT3-mutated acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and imatinib-resistant chronic myeloid leukemia/Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia, particularly when caused by the T315I mutation. Here we review the growing body of evidence supporting the use of Aurora kinase inhibitors as effective agents for AML and Ph+ leukemias.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / enzymology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / enzymology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • AURKB protein, human
  • Aurora Kinase B
  • Aurora Kinases
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases